In recent years, the Scottish Mission Youth department, under the leadership of Pastor Claudiu Popescu, has organised annual culture trips to a variety of European destinations. These adventures have been designed to expose young people to new experiences, history, and culture. They also promote the development of deep and meaningful friendships among adventurous young people who share Christian values and allow indelible memories to be created that will enrich their lives. This year, young people signed up to go to Rome. Jordana Machado from Edinburgh has shared her experience with Scottish Mission News.
A Roman Adventure: Exploring History, Churches, and Culinary Delights
In the magnificent city of Rome, a group of youth from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Scotland embarked on an unforgettable journey filled with history, spirituality, and mouth-watering culinary experiences. From the 3rd to the 9th of May 2023, we found ourselves immersed in the captivating allure of Rome, exploring iconic landmarks, delving into sacred churches, and savouring the tantalizing flavours of Italian cuisine.
Walking Through History: Our adventure began with two enthralling tours that took us through the ancient streets of Rome. The first tour was a fascinating exploration of Roman history, spanning the ages and providing us with a comprehensive understanding of the city's past. The second tour focused on the architectural marvels that grace the streets of Rome, revealing the stories behind the magnificent buildings that have stood the test of time.
Colosseum and Palatine Hills, The Heart of Ancient Rome: On the second day, we embarked on a thrilling journey to the Colosseum, an iconic symbol of Rome's grandeur. As we stood before this colossal amphitheatre, we were transported back in time to its majestic beginnings. The Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was a marvel of architecture and engineering. Its construction, initiated by Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and completed by his son Titus in 80 AD, was a testament to the ingenuity and vision of the Roman Empire. The amphitheatre, with its grand arches, towering pillars, and intricate details, showcased the beauty and opulence of ancient Rome.
Adjacent to the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill awaited our exploration. This legendary hill is not only the birthplace of Rome but also a site of immense historical significance. As we ascended the hill, we marvelled at the sprawling ruins of ancient palaces and villas that once housed emperors and aristocrats. The Palatine Hill's breathtaking views of the city below whispered tales of power, luxury, and intrigue. We revelled in the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of emperors, imagining the lavish lifestyles and grandeur that once graced these historical grounds.
Churches and Relics, A Sacred Encounter: On the third day, we delved deep into the sacred world of Christianity, exploring important churches that played a pivotal role in its early beginnings. We visited St. Giovanni di Lateran, also known as the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which stands as the oldest and highest-ranking of Rome's major basilicas. We went to Scala Santa, “Holy Stairs” which according to tradition, is believed to be the staircase climbed by Jesus during his trial before Pontius Pilate. Today, devout pilgrims ascend the steps on their knees, seeking spiritual renewal and reflection. And went also to Santa Croce church, where we encountered relics believed to be connected to Jesus Christ and the apostles, such as Thomas's finger, a thorn from Jesus's crown, and a splinter from His cross. Though not definitively proven, these relics hold profound meaning within the Catholic Church tradition, inspiring a deep spiritual contemplation.
Catacombs, Unveiling Ancient Secrets: Immersing ourselves further into Rome's past, on the afternoon of our third day we ventured into the catacombs, a labyrinth of underground passages that served as burial grounds for generations. We learned about the stark differences between the rich and poor resting places, gaining insights into the fascinating social dynamics of ancient Roman society. It was a thought-provoking exploration of life, death, and the enduring legacy of those who came before us.
Exploring the Treasures of Vatican City, A Journey through Art and Architecture: On the final day of our Roman adventure, we entered the magnificent realm of Vatican City. The Vatican Museums welcomed us with their vast collection of artistic treasures, showcasing exquisite sculptures, tapestries, and paintings by legendary artists such as Raphael and Caravaggio. With its awe-inspiring frescoes by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel left us spellbound, as we admired the masterful depiction of the Last Judgment.
Next, we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica, a monumental architectural marvel. The grandeur of its facade and the expansive colonnaded square set the stage for the breathtaking splendour within. As we stepped into the basilica, a sense of wonder washed over us, as towering columns, ornate chapels, and intricate altarpieces adorned the space. The immense dome, crafted by Michelangelo, seemed to touch the heavens, leaving us in awe of the richness of the art and the remarkable architecture. Together, the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica offered us an unforgettable journey through art, history, and the wonders of human achievement, leaving an indelible mark on our Roman adventure.
Culinary Delights in Rome: Amidst our explorations, we indulged in Rome's culinary delights. One of our culinary highlights was the neighbourhood of Traversari, where we discovered a plethora of delightful restaurants and cafes. We also became big fans of the traditional Roman pizza served at Pizzaria Baffeto perfectly crafted with a crispy thin crust and a medley of tantalizing toppings. And when it came to gelato, we embarked on a delightful quest, trying various gelaterias throughout the city, with Giolitti emerging as our favourite, offering a delightful array of flavours and textures. The delectable dishes and tantalizing aromas became integral to our Roman experience, satisfying our cravings and providing us with a true taste of Italy.
Our trip to Rome with friends from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church was a captivating blend of history, inspiration, and gastronomic delights. We uncovered the secrets of ancient Rome, marvelled at the influence of Christianity, and indulged in the culinary treasures this city had to offer. As we bid farewell to this marvellous City, our hearts were filled with gratitude for the experiences we shared and the bonds we formed. Rome, with all its wonders, had left an indelible mark on our hearts, forever reminding us of the beauty of exploration and fellowship.